The Stories of Our Stuff

Appreciation, not possession, makes a thing ours.
            —Marty Rubin

Of course we are not ruled by the things that we own— we are neither status seekers nor stuff stalkers. We are not all about what we have or how much we have.

But some things are precious to us because of the stories behind them.

Those things are worth writing about.


What do you have that can’t be replaced? What, if you could only rescue one thing, would you make sure made it out of the fire? That thing may be the topic of an essay, or a piece of short fiction, or even a poem.


Do you carry with you, into each new home or adventure, a prized toy that you got as a young child? Is there a special blanket or picture or book that you always had to have in your room?

In our house, way in the back of a closet, lies ‘Yayas.’ Yayas is what’s left of a once full-sized, satin-trimmed blanket that our older boy insisted on keeping with him well into his young man years. As it wore out, the dad would cut pieces away, until finally, it was just the satin edging. The two of them, dad and son, heads together, tied that satin into a kind of a knotted talisman that sat on the boy’s dresser, or on the chair beside his bed, long after others considered themselves of an age to scorn such things.

Yayas could tell some stories.For a child of divorce, Yayas was a reminder of the time when Mom and Dad were together. It was a metaphor for wholeness and comfort. Its presence said to him, It’s all right. It will be okay. I got you covered.

He could write a tale of childhood by writing about that blankie, our guy could; its tale would be a metaphor, in a way, for his young life.


Perhaps all the things we choose to keep are somehow metaphors for us.


Is there an item of clothing that, outdated, maybe even not fitting any longer, you would never give away? A handmade sweater that a grandparent knitted? The very first jacket you bought with your very first pay? The story of that garment is a story about you and what’s important and your belief in hard work and the value of color and texture. It tells about family ties.

A chair, a jewelry box, a watch, a pen. Some things are precious, not because of the price tag, not because, Hey! I could sell this for ten times what I paid for it!, but because of the history that is soaked into its being. That thing–that simple, maybe aging, thing,–tells a story about you and the people you knew. It might be a symbol of someone special, now lost. It might represent on ongoing bond. It might be a funny reminder of what you thought was beautiful when you were fourteen.

Maybe it’s not even something you own any longer–maybe it’s the memory of that bike with the banana seat and the bell, or the Hawaiian shirt you wore every day the summer you were seven.

But think about that thing that’s important to you. Describe what it looked like then. Tell its history–how you got it, how you used it, the people who were involved. Did it change, in your hands? Were you shattered when it fell and broke into a thousand pieces?

If it’s intact, what does it look like now?

Why does it, or did it, mean so much?

Tell the story of that precious thing, and you share a piece of yourself.

Happy blogging, my friends!


#creative writing
Trying to take my own advice, I wrote last week about the ceramic nativity scene my mother gave me 32 years ago. Here’s that post:

If you have a post about a special thing, please share the link!